You no longer have to disturb your kid’s sleep just to see if that fever is getting any better. Months after its CES debut, Blue Spark’s TempTraq thermometer is available for a fairly reasonable $25. The Bluetooth patch keeps tabs on a child’s temperature in relative comfort for a full 24 hours, giving your progeny a chance to rest instead of enduring yet another probe in the ear. It can warn you if the temperature gets above a certain level, and you can use the Android and iOS apps to log when your tiny patient eats or takes medicine. This won’t track the illness from start to finish, unfortunately, but it might be all you need for that one day when you’re worried your little one’s condition might get worse.
What is Apple Search? That’s a question a lot of people will be asking over the coming months, after we spotted a job ad that references the as-yet-unknown service. The job summary calls for a project manager to work on “a search platform supporting hundreds of millions of users” and “play a part in revolutionizing how people use their computers and mobile devices.” That could mean any number of things, but let’s play a guessing game.
Assuming that Apple really is building a search engine, chances are it’s not likely to be a direct attack on Google — no one is going to switch their search engine to applesearch.com, and Apple knows that. Instead, any search effort is far more likely to be baked into Siri, Safari and Spotlight, i.e. places where most won’t dig through the options and change their search engine. Why? Let’s look at some history.
After initially being the best of friends, Apple and Google are in the midst of a not-so-cold war, thanks largely to Mountain View’s decision to get involved in the smartphone battle. That’s led to Apple reducing its reliance on Google, even doing things that upset its users like removing Google Maps and YouTube as default iOS apps. More subtle changes have come through Siri, which taps services like Bing, Yahoo and Wikipedia for information, rather than Google. These small changes have helped marginalize Google’s hold on iOS users, and flipping the switch on Apple Search in Safari would be a continuation of its efforts in this area.
A search engine would marginalize Google and Microsoft’s hold on iOS users
But why build your own engine when alternatives already exist? We’ve already established that Apple is in a quite a Google-free place right now, but it’s not exactly standing on its own two feet. Its reliance on Bing, in particular, may be daunting given Microsoft is a direct competitor in many areas. Apple Search would be a good way of breaking those ties.
An Apple search engine, as crazy as it sounds, could have a big impact on Google in the long run. Take a look at Firefox. Mozilla removed Google as the default search provider for its browser just a few months ago, and it’s already led to Google’s marketshare dropping sharply, according to StatCounter. Even though users have the option to set their default search engine, usage of Google on Firefox fell from 82 percent to 64 percent over the past three months. Applying the same tactic to Safari would seriously affect Google’s marketshare. The average Engadget reader might have Chrome installed on their iPhone, but the vast majority of users still use Safari for their iOS browsing.
Of course, we need to temper this speculation with the fact that no one knows exactly what Apple Search is. It could just be a refined Spotlight device search, a better way to search for Apps or music on iTunes or even an internal tool written up by an over-zealous recruiter (the word “revolutionize” appears in no less than 43 Apple job ads right now). But, with over a billion iOS devices out in the wild, responsible for a lot of searches, a search engine would be an easy way for Apple to pitch a tent in Google’s backyard.
You likely already have a favorite scanner app if you regularly deal with documents outside the office. But in case you haven’t found The One yet, there’s one more contender to consider: Evernote’s Scannable app for iOS. The company first announced it at Evernote’s annual conference in October 2014. After going through a beta testing phase, it’s now available for anyone with an iPhone or an iPad. Like similar programs, you can use it to scan anything by launching the app and pointing your device’s camera at a document. According to Evernote, you don’t need to press any button, since the app can automatically capture the paper and sharpen its contents, even if you’re processing multiple pages.
You can then choose to email or text the digitized document, upload it to iCloud, share it via AirDrop, or save it to your Evernote account, where it becomes searchable. Business cards, on the other hand, are automatically associated with their owners’ LinkedIn accounts and photos, assuming you’re logged in. Finally, the app doubles as a controller for the ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, so you can quickly go through pages you need to process if, say, your office owns one. Evernote’s Scannable is now on iTunes though the company says it plans to develop versions for other platforms.
An Evernote spokesperson told us there was an issue with the App Store earlier. Scannable is on iTunes now, and it’s available worldwide for free.
Sure, Apple’s legal scuffle over in-app purchases made by misbehaving youngstershas ended, but the firm’s added a precautionary measure to avoid additional costly mishaps. Among other changes included in iOS 7.1, Cook and Co. snuck in an alert after micro-transactions that tells users similar payments can be made for the next 15 minutes without entering their password. Of course, the notice also directs the wielder of the iOS device to adjust the restriction if it’s not to their liking. The 15-minute policy is far from new, but the message is likely a welcome — albeit tiny — addition for parents with shopping spree-prone offspring.
Apple’s in-car infotainment system has been a long time coming. After it was announced at the company’s annual WWDC conference in June last year, “iOS in the Car” flew under the radar, only to undergo a rebrand and launch publicly yesterday under a new moniker: CarPlay. Sharing part of its name with the company’s AirPlay media-streaming protocol, CarPlay combines all of the iPhone’s most important features and mirrors them inside the car, allowing car owners to call, text, navigate and listen to music (and more) using touch- or Siri-based voice inputs. The new in-car interface is compatible with new Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo models unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show, and it’s there that we got the chance to test Apple’s automotive assistant inside a suitably equipped Ferrari FF coupe.
Will CarPlay force you to buy an iPhone to go with your car (or vice versa)? Not really — the Ferrari we tried actually deployed Apple’s dash system alongside its own, while Mercedes-Benz and Volvo (two of Apple’s other partners) have said they’ll continue todevelop Android and MirrorLink solutions for their new models. Compatible with the iPhone 5 and up, CarPlay is “loaded” into the Ferrari’s built-in navigation system by way of a Lightning adapter located underneath the armrest. Wireless connections are coming, at least from Volvo, but our test was limited to traditional cables. Once it’s connected, Ferrari will continue to utilize its own infotainment system, but users can load CarPlay by hitting a dedicated dashboard button, allowing all touch and voice inputs to be diverted to your iPhone. This loads the CarPlay dashboard, which features a familiar array of icons and services you’ll recognize from your iPhone. From here, it’s a case of using the touchscreen or calling upon Siri to load each of the services — the latter of which can be summoned with the Siri Eyes Free button located on the reverse of the steering wheel.
The first thing we noticed is how speedy everything is. Apps load quickly, and Siri’s contextual algorithms hastily recognized our voice commands and responded appropriately. Apple has also implemented safety features to ensure services do not draw your attention away from the road and push forward its “hands-free” theme. For example, when we sent or received a message from a contact, Siri would only read the message back to us and we never once got the chance to see its contents. An Apple representative was able to talk us through each CarPlay feature, so do make sure you check out our in-depth hands-on video above to get a better idea of what Apple and its car maker buddies are aiming for.
If you’ve ever wanted to know how the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID fingerprint security works beyond a basic overview, you’ll be glad to hear Apple has just delivered a motherlode of new details. An updated version of its iOS Security white paper (PDF) explains much of what happens to your finger data after you touch the sensor. In short, your information may be more hack-resistant than it seems at first glance. Each A7 chip has a unique secure space that neither the A7 nor Apple can read, and every authentication session is encrypted end-to-end. The company is also offering a deeper explanation of what it does with your fingerprint image, noting that the print only lasts in memory until it’s turned into a decryption key. As we’ve known for a while, there are safeguards that wipe out that key after 48 hours of inactivity, a reboot or five failed login attempts. While the new insights will only have so much usefulness whendevelopers can’t use Touch ID for their own apps, they suggest that there’s little to no chance of fingerprint theft or a large-scale data breach.